It may have been Mountain Pointe’s Senior Night, but it was a junior who had the best performance Friday.
Junior linebacker Keondre Churchwell decided to honor his senior teammates by wreaking havoc in the Brophy backfield. He recorded one sack and two tackles for loss for a total of 15 negative yards to help the Pride defense shut out the Broncos, 31-0.
Churchwell and the Pride defense played stout all night. Even when the Brophy offense would get close to scoring range the unit would tighten up and the only scoring opportunities Brophy had were two missed field goals.
“We played well on defense,” Mountain Pointe coach Norris Vaughan said. “(Churchwell’s) a young kid and he played really well.”
For Brophy it was another unproductive night offensively for a team that averages 15 points per game this season.
Brophy coach Scooter Molander gave credit to the Pride defense but also said some other his own players’ mistakes kept them out of the end zone.
“When we had success, we shot ourselves in the foot with some untimely penalties,” Molander said. “We got some drives going and they filled the box and we weren’t able to win on a few routes. Obviously they’re not the number one ranked team in the state for nothing.”
The Brophy run offense is built on plays through the “B” gap in between the guard and the tackle.
Churchwell did an excellent job of coming down and filling that gap before a Brophy pulling lineman got there to block him. He saw the play develop early and his quick reads led to the tackles in the backfield and other stops at the line of scrimmage.
He said the defensive coaches game planned against the play during the week but his teammate, senior linebacker Wesley Payne helped him adjust during the game.
“Actually Wesley (Payne) told me to fill the hole faster so I don’t get hit by that big lineman because he’s 200-and-something pounds and I’m only 180,” Churchwell said. “It’s kind of obvious, get there before him and you’ll win.”
Mountain Pointe has good timing when it comes to running backs.
Vaughan said junior running back Paul Lucas broke his hand last week. Therefore, he didn’t play Friday. Fortunately, it was Payne’s first game back after dislocating his elbow.
Payne must have felt like he had to make up for the games he missed because he hammered the Brophy defense for 206 yards on 23 carries and one touchdown.
“The linemen made some outstanding blocks,” Payne said. “I was able to find a hole and do my best to run…It just feels good to be back.”
It took some time for Payne and the Pride offense to find their rhythm and they were not able to score in the first quarter.
The Brophy defenders were constantly moving around before the snap. Usually there was only one defensive lineman with his hand down before each play.
“I thought Brophy did a good job,” Vaughan said. “Their defense played tough early, jumping around and all that kind of stuff, kind of confusing a little bit. But I’m proud of our team, we played really well.”
Payne said he was able to read the defense better as the game went on, even with all the movement. The Pride found their offensive stride in the second quarter and scored two touchdowns.
Coming out into the second half with a 14-0 lead, Vaughan gave the ball to Payne to close out the game. Payne took 11 carries and scored a touchdown to seal the deal for the Pride.
Even with the elbow brace on, Payne ran the ball physically up the middle for Mountain Pointe, while taking some shots along the way.
Payne doesn’t mind being the work horse.
“I like that role,” Payne said. “I try to sacrifice my body for the team and I enjoy that role.”
This is the fifth loss of the season for Brophy and it has obviously been a disappointing season for Broncos, who were the only team to be Mountain Pointe in last year's regular season.
Despite the tough loss, Molander he is proud of the way his team played against the top team in the state.
“We fought for four quarters,” Molander said. “Overall we competed and that’s what you want from your team. The score doesn’t reflect, I think, ultimately the way we competed and we did miss some opportunities.”
Lucas said after the game he probably won’t play next week against Corona Del Sol but he might be ready the following week at Dobson.
Mountain Pointe 31, Brophy 0
MP 0 14 14 3 – 31
B 0 0 0 0 – 0
MP - Brown 20 pass from Hinojosa (Sheehan kick), 10:57
MP - Leonard 3 run (Sheehan), 2:10
MP - Paybne 24 run (Sheehan kick), 9:21
MP - Hernandez 13 pass from Hinojosa (Sheehan kick)
MP -Sheehan 45 FG, 3:13
First downs: 18 7
Rushing: 39-275 30-104
Passing: 13-16-0-148 9-24-0-113
Penalties: 8-65 8-75
Fumbles-lost: 0-0 1-0
RB Wesely Payne: 23 carries, 206 yards and one touchdown
QB Antonio Hinojosa: 13-16, 148 yards and two touchdowns
WR Jalen Brown: six catches, 74 yards and one touchdown
LB Keondre Churchwell: one sack for 10-yards, two TFLs for 5-yards
RB Ryan Velez: 25 carries, 95 yards
RB Will Edwards: four catches, 67 yards
Hubbard is Tempe-based freelancer.